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Belgians and Dutch face fresh measures to curb new surge in coronavirus cases

Associated Press Reporters

Belgium and the Netherlands are taking new measures in an attempt to keep a Covid-19 surge from spiralling out of control, hoping that action now will safeguard Christmas.

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo had to reinforce measures for the second time in a week, closeing night clubs, while bars and restaurants have to close at 11pm for the next three weeks.

A rise in cases and hospital admissions exceeded even the worst medical predictions, forcing Belgium into quick action.

“We have been hoodwinked by the Delta variant,” he said of the very contagious version of Covid-19.

Mr De Croo said there were more than 25,000 cases a day now in the country of 11 million. “This is unprecedented in our country.”

Its neighbour the Netherlands has also been struggling with the virus. The Dutch government is expected to announce an expansion of a partial lockdown that has been in place for two weeks amid swiftly rising infections and ICU admissions.

Caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Health Minister Hugo de Jonge are scheduled to give a televised news conference at 7pm (6pm GMT) to outline the new measures.

Bars and restaurants that already have to close their doors at 8pm could be ordered to shut even earlier. “That we need measures — tough measures — is beyond doubt,” De Jonge said on Thursday.

He said a panel of experts that advises the government on its coronavirus policies has advised the use of measures that will force a turnaround in the rising line of infections.

“That turnaround won’t happen on its own,” De Jonge said.

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